American voters explain why they are 'mad as hell' in 2016

This is a rush transcript from "The Kelly File," February 25, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MEGYN KELLY, HOST: Breaking tonight, just days away from the most significant moment on the presidential campaign calendar to date.  And a brutal new fight explodes between this year's Republican front-runner and the last man to win the GOP nomination.

Good evening and welcome to "The Kelly File," everyone. I'm Megyn Kelly.  Hours ago, a new war of words between Donald Trump and former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney going from nasty to nuclear. It started with Governor Romney getting everyone's attention calling for all of the GOP candidates to release their tax returns. But he specifically singled out Donald Trump, saying, there was reason to believe that there is a, quote, "bombshell in Donald Trump's taxes."

Mr. Trump, of course, responded and we will have all of that. Also tonight, we are going to hear from our Republican voter focus group in the run-up to Super Tuesday. We'll show you what happened when the group grilled Senator Marco Rubio, Senator Ted Cruz, and Dr. Ben Carson.

But we begin tonight with chief political correspondent Carl Cameron, reporting from Houston with the very latest on the campaign trail. Carl?

CARL CAMERON, FOX NEWS CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Megyn. You know, it was Ted Cruz himself who said that Texas and the upcoming Super Tuesday elections are going to be the most important of the entire election cycle, and in the case of Ted Cruz, it's principally because he won the Iowa caucuses, but the last three contests have all been won by Donald Trump and Ted Cruz hasn't performed as well as many unexpected. Many that he as well as even he had predicted. So, he needs to do particularly well in Texas on Tuesday night.

And the latest Monmouth poll suggests that he had an advantage, an edge over Donald Trump in the lone star state, a sizable one that suggests that he could pull off the victory. Marco Rubio well back in Texas. And if Cruz were not to win his home state, it could effectively end his candidacy, people suggesting that he just doesn't have what it takes to go up against Donald Trump after he's won this last three races in a row.  Having said that, Marco Rubio has some issues, as well. Not so much in upcoming Super Tuesday states which will be focused on the South but on March 15th.

On March 15th, states suddenly have the option, instead of being proportionally allocated, they can choose to be winner take all. Florida is one of those states, Marco Rubio's home state. And the junior senator from Florida is in trouble there, way behind in the latest polls in Florida behind Donald Trump. Trump has properties down there. He spends a lot of time down there, and were he to beat Marco Rubio in Florida, that would effectively end that Senator's candidacy. But it's worth noting that Rubio and John Kasich are both in a war of words, their campaigns spanned out across the country arguing that each opposite side should drop out.

Kasich says, Rubio is so far back in Florida he's not viable. But the truth is, the Governor of Ohio is also trailing Donald Trump in his home state, and Ohio is the other state, that would be a winner take all contest for both of them. So, we have this five-person race, this is the 10th debate tonight, and if Ted Cruz is right, the most important state to watch and the biggest delegate person of the entire election will be coming this Tuesday -- Megyn.

KELLY: Well, as you just heard from Carl Cameron, the latest Florida poll appears to show some trouble for Senator Rubio in his home state. And today, Governor John Kasich's campaign piled on. The top Kasich spokesperson tweeting out, "John Kasich is the only candidate who can beat Donald Trump. Marco Rubio needs to do the right thing and suspend campaign." The Rubio campaign firing back. A top advisor tweeting, "Media needs to chill, we are going to win Florida. Period. Take it to the bank."

You've seen the latest polls. But here's what the voters really think.  "The Kelly File" recently put together a Republican Focus Group and we surprise them by bringing in several of the candidates. We recorded the groups reactions to the candidates in real-time. And in moments, those reactions will be displayed on your screen. It's going to look like this.  The red line represents the feelings of the conservatives in the group.  The green line represents the moderates. When the lines go up, it means they like what they're hearing. And when they go down, not so much.

Pollster Frank Luntz ran the whole deal and we begin with Senator Rubio.


FRANK LUNTZ, POLLSTER: It is with great pleasure that I introduce the Senator from Florida, Marco Rubio.



LUNTZ: Word or phrase to describe Marco Rubio.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Awesome statesman.







LUNTZ: I got to ask you, are you married? Are you happily married?



LUNTZ: So that's a pretty good response. Is there anything briefly that you feel that the voters of South Carolina and America haven't heard from you yet, that you would want them to know as they make up their minds?

RUBIO: Well, I'm not sure you haven't heard it yet.

LUNTZ: Grab your dials and rate Marco Rubio.

RUBIO: I'm not sure you haven't heard it yet but I want to reiterate why it is that I decided to enter public service and run for the presidency.  And that is that I believe that my generation will either leave our children the freest and most prosperous Americans that have ever lived or we'll going to be the first Americans to leave our kids worse off than ourselves. And that's what motivates me to do this. That's the reason why I feel so passionate about it.


LUNTZ: We've got three people here who are first-time voters. What's your question for him?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My question, one of the greatest passions of mine is sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ everywhere, no matter this state, North Carolina, all over the world. Tell me your stance on religious liberty.

LUNTZ: How about you the other two, your question?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're my number one right now with Trump at close second. What can you say or -- about you or immigration right now, what can you do real quickly to clarify immigration to make me vote for you.

LUNTZ: And you're also a first-time voter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mine is about immigration. You say that you don't want to deport -- like it's impossible to deport the -- all the illegal immigrants here. But why don't you at least try? Because I mean, they did break the law that is coming here illegally and they are taking American jobs. So why don't you just at least try to deport them?

LUNTZ: My recommendations is to go for the undecided out there.


RUBIO: Well, I think that number one, but well, I can get out, on the religious liberty. The religious liberty is not just the liberty to believe whatever you want, it's the ability to live out your faith in every aspect of your life. It's the free exercise, meaning no government should force you to violate your conscience.


I think the two questions were about immigration. And let me just say, number one, I don't believe we can round up and deport 12 million people.  I don't think you would support what it would take to do that when it's going to happen.


I do believe that people will have to be deported. The law has to be enforced and I think we should begin with people that are dangerous and pose a threat. That should be happening now. And I think, that should be happening now. I mean, people that pose a threat to public safety should be the first ones we prioritize. And that should be happening now. I respect of anything else. And about immigration, I would just say, look, it's very clear, we're not going to be able to do anything on immigration until the American people see that illegal immigration is under control.

And not just pass a law, that's what we learned in 2013, passing a law alone is not enough. They want to actually see the wall built, they want to actually see as hire the additional border agents. They want to actually see e-verify in place and they want to see an entry-exit tracking system in place. And it's working. Because after 1986, when Reagan did it, they never did the enforcement part and people are saying we're not going to let this happen again. And that's exactly why I don't think we can do anything else until that happens first.

LUNTZ: In the very back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to know why you supported the Gang of Eight bill then?


RUBIO: So, back then in 2013, the Senate was moving forward on immigration reform. So, what I wanted to do is make it as conservative as possible in a Senate controlled by Harry Reid. Sending it over to the House because you can't just pass the bill from the Senate and send it to the President in the hopes that the conservative House would make it even better. And if you go back at the time and see my statements, it was very clear. I said it over and over again, this bill is not strong enough. It won't pass this way. The House is going to have to make it stronger and that's the only way we're going to have a chance to do it. So, that's what I endeavored to do is to make it as strong as possible. That isn't the way we're going to do it when I'm president. When I'm president, I can do it our way. Not the way they wanted to do it. And that was never going to be the final law, but I wanted to make -- in essence, I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to have an impact on an issue that still haunts us. We're still facing this issue.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The single -- among all the negative ads with the candidates, the one that affected me the most is the one that continues to say that you have not shown up for votes. But I have not heard you explain or defend that whatsoever.

RUBIO: Well, I have almost a 90 percent vote record in my entire time in five years in the Senate. When I started running for president, I started missing votes. For example, votes that pass 97 to nothing or votes on district judge that everyone supports or votes that haven't been consequential. When there's been a vote where I can make a difference on a major public policy matter like defunding Planned Parenthood, I make those votes. Last week, I took off the campaign and went back to vote on North Korea sanctions. But when you run for president, I can't be in two places at once. And ultimately I'm running for president.

Because while senators can help shape the agenda, only a president can set the agenda. These bills, Obama is going to veto them. We need a new president. And that's why I spend time on the campaign trail. I'm not running for re-election in the Senate, I'm either going to be a private citizen or the next president of the United States. I feel that passionately that we need to improve in that office.  

LUNTZ: What is your reaction to his answer?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love the answer because I know that you have to work with what you have got to deal with and I want to see you do more when you get to the Senate. And I saw you leave Columbia the other day to go back and vote for North Korea.

LUNTZ: What is your reaction to his answer?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think he is honest and sincere.

LUNTZ: One more.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The thing that I love is that you notice he said, I'm not running for re-election for Senate. I'll either be a private citizen, so it's not like he's falling back on a job he has. That's why I believe him.


KELLY: Still ahead, Ted Cruz faces the Focus Group as we'll show you the moment that persuaded one panelist to switch their support to the Senator.

Plus, Dr. Ben Carson responds next to the complaint that has dug his campaign from the start.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wish that you had more fire in your belly. I want to see sum unction. I don't want you to be ugly to the people but I want to feel fire, because I feel like if you're running against some of these guys, you need that fire.



DR. BEN CARSON, R- PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: People frequently ask me, is it really worth it, what you have to go through to run for president? Have your character attacked and your reputation and your family and everything, is it really worth it? And the answer is, no.


Not if you're doing it for yourself. But the answer is a resounding yes if you're doing it for others.


KELLY: Dr. Ben Carson there, delivering a powerful message last night to his supporters about why he is running for president, even while some are calling for him to bow out. But he's also acknowledging that without a strong showing on Super Tuesday, it is going to be a tough road ahead for his campaign. Here's what happened when the doctor met with our Focus Group of panelists. Watch.


LUNTZ: I want a word or phrase to describe Ben Carson. I'm going to start with you. We're going to go down the row.









LUNTZ: How much better can you get to that?

CARSON: No one said handsome.


LUNTZ: What have these voters not heard from you that you would want them to know with the vote only a few hours away?

CARSON: I would want them to know that I'm not a politician and I'm a member of "We, the people" just like everyone else. I have no desire ever to be associated with the political class or to be controlled by them.

LUNTZ: What do you think?


What do you want to know from him?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you handle Washington, D.C., though?

CARSON: Well, let me put it this way. Some of the things that I've had to handle in my life have been incredibly more difficult than Washington, D.C.  To the point that I don't even get interested in doing anything unless people say it's impossible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wish you had more fire in your belly. I want to see some unction. I don't want to be ugly to the people but I want to feel fire because I feel like if you're running against some of these guys you need that fire.

CARSON: Well, you know, the interesting thing is, I used to have a razor temper and I would go off the handle and I would go after people with all kinds of things. And it was really God who cured me. But he made me into a very calm person. I came to understand that to lash out at people, to punch somebody in the face was not a sign of strength, it was a sign of weakness. I also came to understand that it's a sign of selfishness if you're always angry and lashing out, because it's always about me, my, and I.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are you just like on foreign policy -- rebuild our military? Because I believe that's like really, we pretty much set the pace for the world, I feel like because we are like one of the leaders in the world. And being president, you pretty much can oversee the world.  And I think we need to lead from a position of strength. What are you going to do to rebuild your military?

CARSON: Well, you have to have a president who understands that if we get the military wrong, nothing else matters. Particularly in the world that we live in right now. It's a very, very dangerous world.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are for President Obama sending Special Forces to Syria and I'm a veteran and my husband is a 21-year army veteran. I'm highly opposed to that. So, explain to me how you could support President Obama on one issue and then say that you're against him on how he's handled the military as a hold.

CARSON: Well, bear in mind, one of the reasons that we were able to take Sinjar back after ISIS had taken it is because we put our special-ops people in with the Kurds. And they were able to restrict the access into Sinjar, which softened the target. And then they were able to go in, backed up by the Air Force and take that city back. That's what I'm talking about. Utilizing our Special Forces in conjunction with the ground forces that are there. Now, that becomes an easy thing if we do things the way we should. We should have strong relationships with all of the people in that region, because it's in their best interest to keep the place out of the hands of ISIS.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you support troops on the ground in Syria?

CARSON: That's not exactly what I just said. I said putting our people in with their people. I think their people have to be the main ones. There are several Syrians who are moderate Sunnis who are --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How can you tell the difference between the moderates and the extremists? Because I don't know how you tell them, if asked them a question, they're not going to tell you the truth. You're just basically putting my husband and others in danger when you don't know what the enemy really looks like.

CARSON: Well, for instance, obviously, you can never be 1,000 percent sure that this person doesn't have some connection. But you can be generally sure from their geography, where they live and what they've been doing.  But my point is, we will never be able to control that area by ourselves.  We have to have allies in order to do it. And one of the terrible things that we did with the Iranian deal is we put a dagger in the heart of all of our allies throughout that region, and then we have the nerve to go and ask them to be our boots on the ground.

LUNTZ: You guys agree with that?


LUNTZ: Where are my undecided voters here? Okay, very quickly. What's your question?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We talk a lot about immigration. How are you going to solve the Syrian refugee problem?

LUNTZ: What's your question?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How would you defeat your democratic opponent?

LUNTZ: Where are my other undecideds? We're going to do two more. What's your question?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My question is, on the issue of national security, will you get the terrorists off of twitter and what will you do about the Apple problem?

LUNTZ: Last one.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My question is about the Federal Reserve. It's all nice to talk about the military and how we rebuild it and I'm in favor of that. But we are $19 trillion in debt and they're going to print more money because they're not getting the results that they want and the world economic situation is a mess. How can you change that and enable us to make our military strong again?

LUNTZ: You only get to answer one of those.


CARSON: Okay. They're all such juicy questions. I want to answer them all. The Federal Reserve is a terrible problem, no question about that.  But we have put the Federal Reserve in a very difficult position because our government continues to drive the debt up. And of course, it leaves them in a position of having to suppress the interest rates, which destroys the American dream. Because people can't put money in their savings account and see it grow and then retire with a nice nest egg. We have to stop manipulating money. We talk about the Chinese. I think we're going to have to attach our money to something.

You know, we detached from the gold standard in 1971, and it's just free for all. This makes absolutely no sense. And it's one of the reasons that we're moving toward the economic cliff. And a lot of people say, it's just numbers, and they don't mean anything. I'm sure that's what the 17th century Spaniards said and the 18th century French and the 19th century English. You know, they all say the same thing before their collapse. Why can't we learn from these things that happen?

LUNTZ: You guys agree?




KELLY: We are now just days away from the single biggest night for all of the presidential candidates, Super Tuesday. Five hundred and ninety five delegates up for grabs, about half of what's needed to win this nomination.

Trace Gallagher takes a closer look at what's at stake and how the day could make or break some campaigns.

Plus, Senator Ted Cruz goes face to face with our Focus Group and talks about the Supreme Court and President Obama. And then our panelists weigh in on the state of the American dream in one of the more remarkable conversations we've seen.


LUNTZ: Why does that make you so angry?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What bothers me the most in this country is that you can't even speak the truth anymore or else you'll be called a racist or a bigot or any other thing.


KELLY: Stay tuned.


PATRICIA STARK, FOX NEWS WEATHER ANCHOR: This is a Fox News alert. From America's News Headquarters, I'm Patricia Stark. There's been a string of shootings in Hesston, Kansas, which culminated at Excel Industries, a lawn mower factory. Police say, up to seven people are dead, including the shooter. Up to 20 others are said to be injured. However, there's no word yet on their condition. Police say the suspect was an employee at Excel Industries, but it's not clear what prompted the shootings. Hesston is located in South Central, Kansas about 35 miles north of Wichita.

Much of the U.S. continuing to get hit with severe weather, heavy snow canceling hundreds of flight in the Midwest. Power outages leading thousands without power from the Carolinas to New England. Tornadoes reported as far south as Louisiana and as far north as Pennsylvania.  Storms are blamed for at least half a dozen deaths.

I'm Patricia Stark. And now back to "The Kelly File." For all your headlines, log onto

ANNOUNCER: From the World Headquarters of Fox News, it's "The Kelly File" with Megyn Kelly.

KELLY: Well, it may be the most important day yet for the five remaining presidential GOP candidates. The Super Tuesday contests are now just days away. They carry nearly half the delegates necessary for a Republican candidate to win. And with the Democrats in nearly the same situation, mark your calendars, because next Tuesday is going to be a very big deal.

Trace Gallagher live with our West Coast Newsroom with that. Trace?

TRACE GALLAGHER, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Megyn, for Democrats, the equation is pretty simple. Super delegates plus Super Tuesday could equal an insurmountable lead for Hillary Clinton. Not only does she have a slew of super delegates, meaning elected officials and party bosses who have already committed to her. She is also polling well ahead of Bernie Sanders in seven of the 11 Super Tuesday states. So unless Sanders can conjure a comeback for the ages, Clinton will rack up enough delegates to be well on her way. The Republican scenario is a little muddier. But what is clear is Donald Trump has the lead and the momentum and Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are each scrambling to convince southern voters that they are the best Trump alternative.

For the third time in four contests, according to entrance polls, Marco Rubio won among voters who decided within the last week. Rubio says that shows he wasn't their first choice, but he's now their best choice. Ted Cruz says that his win in Iowa is proof positive that he can beat Donald Trump, although in Iowa, Cruz won 34 percent of evangelicals and polls show that Trump is making inroads among religious voters in the south. The last GOP presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, summed it up pretty well for Neil Cavuto. Listen.


FMR. GOV. MITT ROMNEY, 2012 GOP PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I think it's very difficult for any one of the non-Donald Trump contenders to be able to be a real threat unless perhaps the feel narrows.


GALLAGHER: Right now the field is five. The magic number is 1,237. Those are the delegates needed to secure the GOP nomination. Trump has 82. And polls show that he is positioned to pick up a lot more come Tuesday. And if Ted Cruz doesn't win his home state of Texas in resounding fashion, it could be a short spring for more than just Punxsutawney Phil -- Megyn.

KELLY: Well, Senator Ted Cruz is hoping Super Tuesday will help him turn his campaign around. He told voters at a campaign rally that he realizes it is the most important day of the entire presidential election for him.  Here's what happened when Senator Cruz went in and met with our "Kelly File" Focus Group. Watch.


LUNTZ: Ladies and gentlemen, Senator Ted Cruz.


LUNTZ: Give me word or phrase to describe Ted Cruz.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Constitutionalist.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Constitutionalist.





LUNTZ: Not all good. Mostly good.


Senator, what have you not -- and if you all can grab your dials -- this is going to be a discussion.


LUNTZ: What have you not had the chance to tell them that would help them make up their minds? How many of you are still undecided today? Raise your hands. This is your chance to reach out to about a third of the group.

CRUZ: Uh-hm.

LUNTZ: What would you tell them that might convince them that you're the right candidate? And everyone grab your dials and let's start reacting.  


CRUZ: Well, listen, I think the stakes have never been higher, than they are right now. I think one of the great things of the people of South Carolina is you all have been looking seriously at these candidates. You know, this Saturday, when we had the last debate, earlier that day Justice Scalia passed away. I think it really underscored just how high the stakes are in this election. And what I believe the men and women of South Carolina are looking for is they're asking who can I trust? You know, the Supreme Court right now is hanging in the balance, and our basic constitutional rights, our Second Amendment, free speech, our religious liberty, every one of them were one liberal justice from that being taken away from us. And what we've seen over and over again, the Democrats, when they have the White House, they always put left wing activists on the courts. But the problem is, Republicans, more than half the time, we mess it up.

LUNTZ: Do you guys agree with that?


LUNTZ: So why should they trust you?

CRUZ: Because I've spent my whole life fighting to defend the constitution. I've spent my whole life fighting to defend the Bill of Rights.

LUNTZ: What question would you ask Senator Cruz?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would like to ask if things don't work out for the presidential election, I think he would be a fabulous Supreme Court justice.

LUNTZ: Do you guys agree?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would you accept that?

CRUZ: Listen, thank you. I appreciate that. What I'll tell you, having principled Supreme Court justices is immensely important. But I think our country is in crisis right now. You know, I would like to be in a position to appoint two, three, four, five principled Supreme Court justices, but we also need a president who will fight to repeal Obamacare. We need a president who will fight to pass a flat tax.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But the Supreme Court has been holding that up.


CRUZ: You are preaching to the choir so much. I mean, listen, I've spent almost my entire life practicing in front of the court. But on foreign policy, we need a president that stands with Israel. We need a president that defeats radical Islamic terrorism.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My husband is a retired United States army. What are you going to do to help our armed forces, particularly the veterans?

CRUZ: Hugely important question. We've got to rebuild the military. The weakening of the military under Obama has been absolutely unconscionable.  Earlier this week in South Carolina, I rolled out a comprehensive plan to rebuild the military, to start with Obama's proposed reducing our army to 450,000 soldiers. That's too weak to get the job done. We're going to rebuild to 525,000 instead.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: . the Supreme Court decision that was made this past summer.

CRUZ: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you see that continuing to affect our religious liberties in the negative way it seems to be doing.

CRUZ: Listen, you're absolutely right. The gay marriage decision, it was utterly lawless, it was illegitimate. It was contrary to the constitution.  As far as I'm concerned, it will not stand.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, Senator Cruz, you will change my mind and you have my vote if you answer this question. I have a lot of friends in the medical field.

CRUZ: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we all agree that Obamacare is a cancer, and it is a cancer that needs to be cut out, but needs to be cut out the right way.  If you cut it out the wrong way, it will absolutely kill the country and kill our healthcare system.

CRUZ: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How, step by step, do you plan on removing Obamacare?

CRUZ: Andy, it is a great question.


CRUZ: I think we got to start by repealing every word of it, but once we do that, we're not done. Everyone agrees we need healthcare reform. I think healthcare reform ought to expand competition, ought to empower patients and it ought to keep government from getting between us and our doctors. We need to let people need purchase health insurance across state lines. We need to expand health savings accounts. We need to make health insurance portable, so it goes with you from job to job.

LUNTZ: Did he win your vote?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He won my vote.

LUNTZ: Good for you.


CRUZ: Excellent.

LUNTZ: One last question, going in the back. You're up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A lot of people I know are scared of you. I had a friend next to me -- I thought it was rather ridiculous, but she did say she thought you wanted to be a theocracy. How are you going to convince moderates and independents that you're not going to you know turn the country into a theocracy or anything, so right wing that they get crazy about it?

CRUZ: Well, listen, one of the things the media does is they try to paint anyone who is a Bible-believing Christian as a nut.


LUNTZ: Do you guys agree with that?


CRUZ: And so, it's wrong. Listen, I am a born again Christian, it's who I am. It is integral to who I am. I'm not going to hide my faith. I'm not going to be ashamed of Jesus.


CRUZ: At the same time, I'm not running to be pastor-in-chief. My dad is a pastor, but it's not the job of a presidential candidate or a president to be the pastor. It is the job of the president to be the leader of everyone. The answer you can give your friend more than anything is that I am a constitutionalist. The Bill of Rights protects everyone, religious liberty. It protects Christians, it protects Jews, it protects Muslims, it protects Hindus, it protects atheists. I mean, this is a nation where we have a right to follow our conscience, our religious faith to seek out God.

LUNTZ: Do you guys agree with that?


LUNTZ: Ladies and gentlemen, Senator Ted Cruz.


KELLY: Well, it's one of the defining issues of this election, the worry we're seeing, the death of the American dream in this country. Our focus group tackles that next.

Plus, our panelists weigh in on the heated battles between Donald Trump and Senator Cruz, and their reactions may surprise you, right after this break.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He can take it. He whines as much as Jeb Bush does when it turns against him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And they're his words.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's not a politician.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, excuse me, he's a real politician.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Reagan was a politician.




KELLY: Developing tonight, in the runoff to Super Tuesday, the rhetoric on the campaign trail and on the airwaves appears to be getting rougher. Many of the ugliest attacks line back and forth between Senator Ted Cruz and Donald Trump. And we asked our Republican focus group about some of the harshest attack ads. Here's Frank Luntz again with our group.


FRANK LUNTZ, AMERICAN POLITICAL CONSULTANT: After months of positive campaigning, this election cycle has turned very dark and very negative.  Some of the most negative ads we've ever seen in American politics have been run over the last two weeks. One of the toughest is when Senator Ted Cruz ran against Donald Trump. Let's take a look at how well that ad dialed.

CRUZ: I'm Ted Cruz, and I approve this message.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Life, marriage, religious liberty, the Second Amendment. We're just one Supreme Court justice away from losing them all.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would president ban partial birth abortion?

CRUZ: No, I am very pro-choice in every respect.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We cannot trust Donald Trump with these serious decisions.

LUNTZ: So a lot of you thought that ad was credible. Now, I know there are more Trump people in here than anyone else. Why was that ad credible to you? Feel free to challenge me.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's his own words.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe in setting the tone, and I believe if you want a fair race, Senator Cruz needs to set the tone and not play this dirty politics game. I like Senator Cruz.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was truth.



LUNTZ: Right here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He even said in the last debate, Trump stated he is for using taxpayer dollars to fund Planned Parenthood. It proves that Trump is a liberal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump said they do some good things. I don't believe they do anything good.

LUNTZ: So where are my Trump people? Why are you not standing up for him?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is -- yes, he has flip-flopped on a few things.  But so did Reagan. Reagan started out as a Democrat and, you know, then converted over to being a conservative.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because Trump said well, Planned Parenthood does do a lot of good things for women's health, and he is in favor of that part of it. Not the abortion part of it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are other organizations that provide those things for women that do not support abortion.


LUNTZ: But let's be fair. By the way, where are my Trump people here?  There are more people voting for Donald Trump than any other candidate in this room. And for the record, you all are silent. Why aren't you standing up for him?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt, because sure he might have thought that years ago, but I'm hoping he said he has changed his mind and I hope it's true. Because if he is president and he goes back to those views, he's going to have a lot of trouble on his hand I think from the American people.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People can change. She said Reagan was a Democrat. He changed. People can change.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Reagan had an eight-year record as governor.


LUNTZ: One at a time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Reagan had an eight-year record of his change to prove his change. Trump has no record. He only has rhetoric.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's not a politician.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was 1999 when he gave money to Barack Obama, he gave money to Nancy Pelosi and he gave money to Harry Reid.


LUNTZ: By the way, Shannon (ph), you're stepping all over a 19-year-old.


LUNTZ: I know you're in the military. I know that you can break his neck with one hand. Do you still support Trump?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I mean, people can change. I still support him.  I don't think abortion is right, but he said he changed. He is pro-life now. He said that he does agree -- he does like or doesn't like, he does agree with abortion for rape victims, incest, and all these things.

LUNTZ: Should Trump be suing Ted Cruz over this?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He can beat up on everybody else and he can take it.  He whines as much as Jeb Bush does, when it's turned against him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And it's his words.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let him come out and prove now that he has changed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's not a politician. He's not a politician.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh excuse me, he's a real politician.


LUNTZ: John, go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, Reagan was a politician. So we can track his record of him changing, right? But Trump is not a politician.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trump is on television more than any 20 people in this world.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He has plenty of opportunity to clarify himself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump is no Ronald Reagan.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Donald Trump is on TV, but he's done an awful lot of good for charity with his show that he had.


He did an awful lot of good for Hillary Clinton's campaign, too, but I'm not voting for him.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He did a lot of good when he went to their wedding. He loves Chelsea Clinton.


LUNTZ: Hold on. Megyn, I want the record to show that I lost complete control of this group, and I don't think that I can get it back except to say that we're out of time. But clearly this battle, this disagreement, and the negative ads, they have only just begun. Back to you.


KELLY: It is one of the most important topics to voters this election season. The American dream, and what the future of this country is going to look like. Our focus group weighs in on that hot topic when we come back.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want my government back that is supposed to be a citizen legislature, not supposed to be a political class that's taken over and is us versus them.



KELLY:  The American dream and the future of our country. It's a topic that always gets our Kelly File panelists fired up. Watch this.


LUNTZ: Ask the American people, and more than half of them will tell you they're mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. Let's find out what South Carolinian voters think. How many of you are mad as hell?  Everybody. What are you so angry at?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now, we are looking at a situation where we are paying as much for refugees and immigrants in this country as we are paying for our V.A. veterans care right now, $168 billion a year.

LUNTZ: Are you that mad?


LUNTZ: Over what?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our healthcare is going straight down the toilet. We can't -- we can't convince any doctors to treat patients. Our military is not being supported, and our borders are open.

LUNTZ: This anger that people feel, it's not productive, is it?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was in healthcare, I got laid off because of Obamacare, and it's not fair. People losing jobs, people losing money.  And people aren't -- I mean, I got to buy health care now and it's 350 bucks a month.


LUNTZ: Some people have been protected by it. Some people now have healthcare that's available. Why does that make you so angry?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What bothers me the most in this country is that you can't even speak the truth anymore or else, you'll be called a racist or a bigot.





LUNTZ: Political correctness, does it bother you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It bothers me very much.

LUNTZ: Because?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, because -- I mean, have a right to my opinion without being labeled something. I mean, it's ridiculous.



LUNTZ: You're calling it discrimination.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Reverse discrimination, yes.

LUNTZ: How? Explain that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, because anyone who says anything has to watch everything they say and you can't label a spade a spade. It's -- everyone is afraid to talk.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, what it really boils down for me is the cultural change. I could have never imagined in eight years of my country, I could have seen such a huge cultural change.

LUNTZ: What do you mean by that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's an overwhelming umbrella of everything. It goes to how we treat our veterans, it goes to how we treat our older people.  It's a cultural change. How we're educating our children or not educating our children, how we treat one another.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have a majority Republican in Congress and we can't get anything done.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're all voting with the Democrats.

LUNTZ: Who's mad at Congress?


LUNTZ: You're Republicans. You're Republicans. It's a Republican leadership.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They lie. All of them lie.

LUNTZ: Republicans in Congress?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They have lied to us. They can't get anything done.  They're lying because they don't -- they say they'll defeat Obamacare.  They've done nothing. They say they'll protect Social Security.

LUNTZ: What do you want from them?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want them to stop lying, tell the truth. Balance the budget.


LUNTZ: I want to understand what's going on with Republicans in Congress because they've got the House, they've got the Senate. What's the problem?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want my government back that is supposed to be the citizen legislature, not supposed to be a political class that has taken over and is us versus them.

LUNTZ: What do you want Congress to do? They have a Democratic president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop being weak, timid, and fickle. They need to grow a backbone, all of the Constitution.


LUNTZ: You would impeach Barack Obama?



LUNTZ: How many of you by show of hands would impeach Barack Obama? Oh, come on.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you for real?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's breaking so many laws.

LUNTZ: One at a time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's broken so many laws that it's ridiculous he's still in office.

LUNTZ: You would impeach Barack Obama?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Executive overreach.

LUNTZ: That's impeachable?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not impeachable but it should.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nobody should be above the law including the president of the United States.

LUNTZ: I want a show of hands, how many of you believe in term limits for members of Congress?


LUNTZ: How many of you, if you could, would throw every member of Congress out, every incumbent and start over? That's just about all of you. If they're watching in Washington, you're in big, big trouble.


KELLY:  We'll be right back. Don't go away.


KELLY: And don't forget to tune in later tonight for a special late edition of "The Kelly File." Now, it airs tonight at 11:00 p.m. Eastern Time, 11:00 p.m. Eastern Time right after the GOP debate. We're going to have a complete wrap-up and have analysis for you of the final showdown before Super Tuesday. Check out what we got. Nobody else can beat this.  Frank Luntz focus group on Texas voters, Charles Krauthammer, Bret Baier, Chris Stirewalt, Howie Kurtz, Dana Perino, Marc Thiessen, many more.  Tonight at 11:00 p.m.

In the meantime, go to, follow me on Twitter @MegynKelly. Let me know what you think of tonight's program and of this race so far. Thanks for watching, everybody. I'll see you in a little bit, 11:00 p.m. Eastern Time. I'm Megyn Kelly. This is "The Kelly File."

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